It’s been six weeks since I shared my halfway progress and experiences with the Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide. Time to catch up and see how the final six weeks went and see if my 12 week transformation pictures are just as jaw-dropping as some of the other transformations.
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The promise of the 12-week Bikini Body Guide (BBG) is to deliver girls and women the body they have always desired. The program consists of the Bikini Body Workouts and the H.E.L.P nutrition guide. In my first article I focussed on the functional side of the Bikini Body Guide. I explained the importance of both the exercise and the nutritional part of this program and shared my food diary for one standard week of eating. I was overwhelmed with your response and your requests for a follow-up article when I was done. In this wrap-up article I want to focus more on the emotional part and really share my personal experiences with you. So here we go… Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.
The good thing, no let me correct, the best thing about the BBG is that it works. I think for almost every woman with every body type this program will challenge you both on a physical and emotional level but the results will be worth it.
To sum up The Good:
– the exercises
– the focus
– the energy level
– the physical progress
– the supportThe exercises
With the BBG Kayla Itsines has really created a program that offers a lot of variety, and challenges you to push yourself with every training. And although your strength and stamina improves, the program gets more advanced too so it never feels like it gets easier. I love how it tones up every part of the body, helps you develop lean muscle mass and in no way will make you look bulky.My favorite exercises in the end were my least favorite ones in the beginning. I now love doing spiderman pushups because it makes me look and feel strong. I finally got the hang of the straight leg jackknives without losing my balance and tipping over. And as for burpees, I never thought I would live to see the day where burpees would feels as a nice break in my workout routine, but now they do. I appreciate them in every variation, even the bosu ball burpees which in the beginning were a total pain in the ass.
Before I started the BBG I was a bit disappointed with myself for not reaching one the goals I set for myself. In 2013 I competed in one of my first obstacle runs, the Strongmanrun, it’s best described as a half marathon but with loads of obstacles. For me it was one of the most fun and challenging experiences in my life. I placed 44th out of 800 women. And I set myself a goal, next year, I would be coming back even stronger and end top 25.
And then life got in the way, in a good way though. I founded- and launched a social dating startup Wingme with three co-founders. I fell in love with my boyfriend and we moved in together shortly after and I was combining this all with my busy advertising job. Needles to say, something had to give, and this was my training regime. Not that I stopped working out, but I didn’t train enough to properly prepare myself for such a demanding race and my goal to finish in the top 25.
So I when I ran into Kayla’s Instagram account and saw all the amazing transformations I decided that completing the BBG would become my next challenge. From that moment on, all my focus was on making this a success. And when I commit, I fully commit. I don’t do half-ass. After a few weeks I found that the structure of the program and the focus on my food and my training was actually helping me focus in other areas of my life too. I quit smoking, I cut my alcohol intake, I went to bed- and woke up early every day, I prepped all my meals and I was more committed to my job than ever. I worked on three pitches and in my opinion delivered some of my best work.
I even found out that my elevated focus was contagious. My boyfriend, who’s been my biggest supporter during this whole process also made a commitment to himself and finished his long overdue thesis. And many of my friends have started their fit journey inspired by my progress, which to me is huge.
The only reason why I could do what I did without a nervous breakdown for these 12 weeks is because of my high energy level. Almost throughout the whole program (with some exceptions, but more on that in “The Ugly” section) I was high on adrenaline. I didn’t miss one training session, I even did more than what the BBG prescribed. I didn’t get sick, although all of my colleagues had some sort of the flu. Actually I felt better with every training session I finished. Which is a very addictive feeling that you do need to get you through the 12 weeks.
The physical progress
But the biggest reward is the noticeable physical progress you will see when you look in a mirror, take an ab-check selfie or when you step on a scale. You will see and feel your body changing. That is why Kayla emphasizes the importance of taking weekly progress shots so you can compare yourself and stay motivated by the change you see.
For me personally the main goal was to lean-out and become more toned. I was performing weight lifting at least three times a week but always had the feeling like a layer of fat was covering my muscles. I wanted to shred that layer as much as possible without losing my strength. And that is what I achieved. I can still bench press, deadlift and squat the same amount of weight or even more in some cases, but without the little aches in my body after a heavy training because my core is much stronger and my body holds less tension in the back and neck.
In total I ran around 300 kilometers in the 12-weeks of the BBG. Three times a week I ran 6,3 km for my LISS trainings, my average pace in August was 5’37/km vs. 5’26/km in September and 5’17/km in October! After 10 weeks I even participated in another obstacle run, The Strong Viking run. It was a grueling experience, with so much mud and cold water, but I had an amazing time. It felt like all my morning runs were finally paying off.
Kayla’s army is a big one. There are loads of girls all around the world who are part-taking in this movement. It is both a physical movement that gets asses off the couch and into the gym and a mental movement that helps shift a lot of girls view on what a healthy body should look like and what a balanced diet actually consists of. Major things in my opinion. Girls need role models like Kayla in their lives who tell them that carbs are not the enemy and that weight training doesn’t make you look ‘bulky’ and ‘manly’. What Kayla has done is just what #FITGIRLCODE is doing, trying to build a supportive community of women of all shapes and sizes that promote a fit lifestyle. I have met so many inspiring women while participating in this program, mostly through Instagram, by engaging with other BBG-girls on their profiles. They follow my progress and support me on my journey and I do the same for them. This is golden.
Although I love the Bikini Body Guide and would definately recommend it to any girl out there looking for a challenging program that will deliver results fast there are two sides to every coin. And it wouldn’t feel truthful if I didn’t share these experiences with you either. Just like the positive sides these might not apply to you since we are all different people with different body’s.
The negatives of the BBG for me:
– flat bootay syndrome
– the lack of protein
– the emphasis on ‘clean eating’
The most commonly disliked side-effect of toning up and a lower body fat percentage is the fact that your old mates “boobs” want to leave the building as soon as possible when your new bestie “abs” decide to join the party. Why can’t these two just get along!! It’s not fair to all of us Fit Girls all over the world who are not genetically blessed with a big rack that we have to make a choice. But we do. For now I’m choosing abs over boobs. Good thing my boyfriend is an ass man.
Flat bootay syndrome
Which immediately brings me to my second critical point. If your ass derives from pancake flatland like mine and you have literally worked your butt off the last couple of years to build an ass for yourself, than you better incorporate some heavy weight work into this program and you may want to overthink the amount of LISS sessions. After the first month already I saw my ass getting more flat from all the cardio I was doing. Although I am a runner by force, not by nature, I was enjoying my fasted morning runs more than I thought. But my glutes didn’t. So I adjusted my exercise routine and decided to throw HIIT in the mix and take one LISS a week out. I also did an extra weight session focussed purely on my glutes and hammies by performing heavy weighted glute bridge, deadlifts and pull-throughs.
The lack of protein
The BBG will have different effects on everybody. If you’re a very skinny girl with no muscle mass you will probably build a lot of muscle during the program. If you are coming from a more heavy weight lifting routine like me you may lose some. In the beginning of the program I was feeling a bit fatigued due to the low caloric level I was eating at, so I went to the doctor for a quick checkup and found out that the creatine levels in my blood were a bit elevated. This is common side-effect for athletes who are participating in very intense training programs. So to benefit my energy levels and better fit my personal goals I also made some changes to the nutritional part of this program by incorporating more protein in my diet and thus increasing my caloric intake.
The H.E.L.P. nutrition guide prescribes 2 protein units (of about 25 grams of protein each) which for me was not enough. I must say, I came from a high protein, low carb diet, which can be the reason why I found it hard to adjust my protein intake to the guidelines prescribed. But if you already have a lot of muscle mass when entering the program, like me, you might benefit from adding some protein too to make sure you are not eating up your muscles instead of your fat resources.
The emphasis on ‘clean eating’
Although the H.E.L.P. nutrition guide offers lots of variation and, like I mentioned earlier, I love that it teaches girls that carbs are not the enemy, I do think it puts too much emphasis on ‘clean eating’ guidelines. I am a big fan of being strict but not restricting yourself too much when it comes to food. I feel a lot of people nowadays over think their eating (some of my friends reading this will now burst into laughter because in their opinion I am one of those people myself :)) which can lead to orthorexia nervosa. In 80% of the cases I will chose the healthy option over any unhealthy stuff, but I am only human. And I love, love, loooooove food! I want to be able to guilt free enjoy high fat cheeses, pasta, wine, cream, bacon, chocolates and cake every once in a while, like any other Fit Girl. I don’t want to become a food extremist who cuts out whole food groups (lactose, gluten, meat, fish, anything cooked in general) when there is absolutely no medical need or moral objective for me to do so.
The H.E.L.P. nutrition guide is full of great tips and guidelines for most girls. But I think it’s hard to maintain these guidelines in the long run without resulting to occasional binge eating, or worse, an eating disorder. That is why I’m following IFFYM, for about 80% I eat healthy unprocessed foods, the other 20% I can fill with whatever I want, as long as it fits the macro breakdown I set for myself that matches my fitness goals. This flexible way of dieting works for me, for now.The Ugly
I cannot call this a complete review without covering the ugly. The part that nobody wants to talk about because they are sitting on cloud 9 accompanied by ‘the good’. But I’m gonna try and be totally honest with you because I want you to know what you’re getting yourself into.
The stuff I could have done without:
– being a self-centered asshole in general
– jealousy and unnecessary negativity
The number of times I have apologised (sometimes even in advance) for what I say and how I behave when I’m hangry are countless. Aside from unknowing fellow commuters whom I called the worse names possible from the safety of my car, my boyfriend and colleagues got the worse of me more than once I’m afraid.
Being on a caloric deficit for almost 12 weeks straight to tone up as much as possible is not fun for anybody, but I for one found it extremely hard at times. I’m not one of those people who “skip breakfast” or “forgets” to eat. Au contraire, I live from meal to meal and as soon as I finish my last bite my mind already wonders of to what my next meal will be. If I wasn’t such a fitness and health freak I think I would make a great competitive eater ;). But I am also a goaldigger who cannot do anything half-assed. So when I set the goal for a visible sixpack in 12 weeks, I knew that I would do anything (within the healthy and acceptable limits) to reach that goal. I did cross the acceptable limit of hangriness a few times, so when my boyfriend said; “Babe, although I love your determination, but I think you are not a lot of fun to be around ATM” I knew what I had to do and I upped my caloric intake with about 200 calories a day and tried to center all my hangriness at my fellow commuters instead of the people I love.
Being a self-centered asshole in general
But you do have to get used to the fact that you cannot please everybody when you are committing to a highly demanding program like the BBG. The downside of the hyper-focussed-state-of-mind that I mentioned in “The Good” section is that I became somewhat of a self-centered asshole in the process. I can be quite tough on myself – my motto is: go hard or go home – and following the BBG, to me, was quite all-consuming. May daily routine can best be described as train-eat-prep-work-train-eat-sleep-repeat. Can you see how I’m missing the whole “raving” part over here? The choices I made and the priorities I set kinda killed the buzz out of social activities for me. Most of the time I left the party early to go to bed, I didn’t go at all because I had to train that evening.
On Sunday I started with planning my exercise routine for the week, I only shifted in these if my work demanded this, like when I had to pull all-nighters for a pitch. I made a plan, a commitment to myself, and I stuck with it. This means I have have been absent, late, rescheduled or called off last minute because I put my goals over everything else. I’m sorry, but the only way for me to do this is to do it full-pull, and that means putting me first.
Jealousy and unnecessary negativity
Whenever you put your half-naked body on the interwebs you are bound to get some negative feedback. I get it, I am a digital diva who’s been working in the community management business for over 7 years. But still it baffles me how mean girls are to each other. Please, don’t get me wrong, the internet is beautiful place where you can lots of like minded souls who will support you on your journey. But you will also see the face of humanity in it’s most ugly form. Some of the comments I read under progress- and transformation pics are just plain nasty and uncalled for. Don’t call someone else ‘fat’, ‘skinny’, ‘too big’ or ‘too thin’. You don’t know where they came from or where they’re going, so don’t judge their path. I seriously give 0 fucks about others people opinion about my body, I do this for me. But words do hurt, and can even cause permanent damage to some who are more receptive. So be supportive, or shut the fuck up. Am I right? Or am I just hangry? 😉
And now what?
Besides EATING ALL THE FOOD you mean? Which is exactly what I have done the last couple of days in Antwerp with my boyfriend, who surprised me for my birthday with a weekend out of town. I gave myself three days off: no training, no food logging, no counting macro’s and no restrictions. I had an awesome time, ate everything I wanted to without feeling guilty and haven’t seen my sixpack in 3 days. Today is the last day of my celebration and I am rewarding myself and my colleagues with a belated birthday cake. The mother of all cakes, the famous Milka Oreo Kinder Bueno Nutella Cheesecake, also know as diabetes-on-a-plate at a whopping 7000 kcal per pie. I will however make this baby fit my macro’s.
And as much as I loved this weekend with no restrictions, I also missed working out and I am looking forward to being back at the gym today. I love working out and it is, has always been and will always be an important part of my life. The Bikini Body Guide has provided me with even more knowledge about my body and how it responds to certain training and diet than I already had and I will incorporate this information into my daily routine.
So here are my results from following the Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide for 12 weeks
And now what…
I will set new goals and it will probably take some time for me to crystallize what they will be exactly but for now I’ll start by:
- Getting my bodyfat percentage measured. I think I am at around 18% now but I’m not sure and I would love to know so I can set a goal on this.
- Committing to flexible dieting using IIFYM and reverse dieting out of my caloric deficit.
- Building my butt with heavy weight lifting. Nobody has ever written a song about a flat ass, so I’m going to drop-it-non-stop until I have a round and firm booty.
- Keep incorporating HIIT to support fat loss that is needed for me to have visible abs.
- Keep the resistance training circuits from the BBG. I love the variety and the circuits have an amazing effect on my upper body by building lean muscle mass instead of the more bulky arms and back I had before.
This probably means that I will still be training 6 days a week, but not twice a day anymore. And I will try to take one day of rest each week because I know it’s good for me. Not because I want it, I really hate rest days. I actually feel much better to just keep going and have exercise just be one of the things I do every day, like brushing my teeth. I will try this for at least 6 weeks and see how I feel after this. Maybe I will start the BBG 2.0, maybe I’ll do something else that crosses my path. If you have some tips for me, let me know!
This is my final review of Kayla Itsines 12-week Bikini Body Guide. I have tried to be as honest as possible about my journey. I definitely recommend the BBG to anyone who wants to become more fit and who’s up for the challenge. Please be aware that everybody is different and my results and experience will probably not match yours. Which is good, the world needs diversity and less hangry assholes like me ;). Don’t strive for someone else’s body, just try to be the best you, you can be. Oh, and have fun and kick ass and keep me posted!